Andrea Leadsom warned last night that the rising tide of violent crime in Britain has left members of the public ‘scared to go out after dark’.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the former Cabinet minister also said parents were increasingly ‘terrified about where their children are’.
Mrs Leadsom, who will today launch her campaign for the Tory leadership with a pledge to crack down on violence, said she was ‘very concerned’ about spiralling knife and drug crime.
‘It’s a very marked increase and something really affecting far too many communities, leaving people scared to go out after dark and leaving parents terrified about where their children are,’ she said.
When she makes her pitch to be the country’s next Prime Minister, Mrs Leadsom will pledge to make cutting crime one of her spending priorities, along with schools and reducing the national debt.
Describing herself as an ‘optimistic but realistic Brexiteer’, she pledged to leave the EU with a ‘managed exit’ by October 31, calling that date a ‘hard red line’.
She will also describe the ‘real struggle’ her family faced after her parents divorced when she was four.
Mrs Leadsom will tell how it taught her ‘the importance of a loving family and strong community’ and the ‘need for the state to provide support when it is needed’.
Speaking to the Mail ahead of the launch, Mrs Leadsom also suggested the abortion time limit should be set according to the ‘science’ of when a foetus can survive outside the womb.
But the former Leader of the Commons refused to say that the current 24-week threshold should be moved and insisted she would not seek to change the law if she became PM.
She said: ‘I truly believe in choice for women, women have to be able to decide what happens to their bodies. My personal view is that the termination age for a foetus should reflect the science so the point at which a baby becomes viable.
‘There are some extraordinary stories of babies born very premature who have survived. But those tend to be exceptions.
‘This is a very deep, ethical issue that is for every MP to consider. It is not something I would be seeking to change if I was Prime Minister.’
On her faith, Mrs Leadsom said: ‘I am a Christian. It gives me great comfort and I believe a set of guides by which I live, seeking to make the world a better place.’